Aftermath of a Russian missile attack in Uman
Firefighters work at the site of a heavily damaged residential building hit by a Russian missile, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Uman, Cherkasy region, Ukraine April 28, 2023. Press service of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS Reuters

Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities with missiles as people slept on Friday, killing at least nine people in their first large-scale air strikes in nearly two months.

The early-morning attacks, the latest in a wave of Russian missile and drone strikes since Moscow's forces invaded in February 2022, were carried out as Kyiv prepares to launch a counteroffensive to try to retake Russian-occupied territory.

In the central city of Uman, at least seven people were killed and 17 wounded when a missile hit an apartment building, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

Rescue workers clambered through a huge pile of the smouldering rubble, and rescue workers were seen carrying a body bag away on a stretcher. A grown man howled as he watched.

"At first the windows were blown out, then came the explosion," a resident of the apartment building who gave her name only as Olga said as rescue workers dug through the debris. "Everything flew out."

In the southeastern city of Dnipro, a missile struck a house, killing a two-year-old child and a 31-year-old woman, regional governor Serhiy Lysak said. Three people were also wounded in the attack.

The Ukrainian military said it had shot down 21 out of 23 cruise missiles fired by Russia.

"This Russian terror must face a fair response from Ukraine and the world," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote in a Telegram post alongside images of the wreckage. "And it will."

It was not immediately clear what Russia was targeting in Friday's attacks though it has regularly attacked civilian infrastructure including energy facilities.

Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians, but its air strikes and shelling have killed tens of thousands of people and devastated cities and towns across Ukraine.


The capital Kyiv was also rocked by explosions, with officials reporting that air defence units had destroyed 11 missiles and two drones.

Two people were wounded in the town of Ukrayinka just south of Kyiv, officials said.

Explosions were also reported after midnight in the central cities of Kremenchuk and Poltava, and in Mykolaiv in the south, according to the Interfax Ukraine news agency.

Friday's attacks were the first coordinated missile strikes on such a large-scale since an apparent easing off of a Russian campaign of air strikes on civilian infrastructure.

The main focus of fighting has for months been the eastern city of Bakhmut as Russia tries to capture the remaining areas of the industrial Donbas area that it does not yet hold.

Russia also holds a swathe of territory across southern and southeastern Ukraine, and seized and annexed the Crimea peninsula in 2014.

The Kremlin had said on Thursday that it would welcome anything that could bring an end to the war closer, referring to a telephone call between Zelenskiy and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.

It was the first time the Chinese and Ukrainian leaders had spoken since Russia began its war in Ukraine.

The Kremlin also said it still needed to achieve the aims of what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, which Kyiv and its Western allies describe as an unprovoked land grab.